“Vision without execution is hallucination” – Thomas Edison
If there is a place where most people would agree that motivation is crucial is in the area of exercise. Going for an early morning run is my choice of workout. I enjoy morning runs because I get to enjoy the fresh morning atmosphere and it makes me feel completely free. As my legs move, my mind is free to wonder, imagine, and process random thoughts. Often, by the time I get back home, my mind has benefited the most, even more than my body, because it gets focused and generates many wonderful ideas. But despite all the benefits of working out, a healthy heart, good body posture, and refreshed mind, I found that every day I have to overcome the temptation to snooze my alarm and continue to sleep. There is a phase between a state of inaction and action that we find ourselves faced with the decision to change our state. This phase is where motivation is critical. In it, motivation will determine if you will snooze and sleep on, sit and watch TV for hours or go workout. It will determine if you will do what’s easy and unprofitable or what’s difficult and beneficial.
Link between Motivation and Inspiration
My attention was drawn to the many publications online that downplay the importance of motivation. Claiming that motivation is something external and doesn’t matter for success. This has led to a hypothesis that argues that relying only on inspiration is the key to success. But I am opposed to that hypothesis because on further investigation, those who promoted that hypothesis leave a gray area that doesn’t link inspiration and action.
I believe that there is another hypothesis, which is more complete than the former. It states, Inspiration depends on motivation for success to be realized. You might be asking, “What is the difference between inspiration and motivation?”. Inspiration is the eureka or light-bulb moment when your mind gets stimulated. While motivation is when your brain sends a command for action due to inspiration, thereby deriving its definition as motive-action. Motivation is measured by actions taken due to inspiration. So, the link between inspiration and motivation is your mind since it processes both. You need to be both inspired and motivated to act and get results. Inspiration minus motivation results to only dreams. Motivation minus inspiration results in incomplete projects. Inspiration coupled with motivation leads to a change in your state and success. The problem isn’t lack of inspiration, it is the misunderstanding of motivation.
In today’s post and the next two, we will look at motivation. My goal is for you to understand, appreciate, harness the power of motivation in achieving your goals, especially those that are born out of inspiration. Let’s start by looking at three things that are at the core of motivation and are often forgotten.
1. It flows from within.
Often, people have viewed motivation as an outside force that pushes us into action. I believe that this view isn’t the most accurate about motivation. From our definition and knowing its effect to cause our brain to command our muscles in to actions, I am convinced that motivation is an internal factor. I agree that external stimuli lead to motivation, but I caution that we shouldn’t confuse a stimulus to motivation. Stimuli aren’t motivation in themselves. When someone encourages you to do a certain action and you do it, the words or encouragement (stimuli), enter your mind, get processed, and then your mind formulates a response of action, which includes excitement in your heart. At the front end, stimuli inspire you, while at the back-end motivation is born. To help you see why motivation is an internal factor, contrary to popular belief, figure 1. below provides a schematic illustration.
The danger of viewing motivation as an outside factor is that it leads you to think that you must be externally motivated to achieve your inspirations. As I indicated earlier, it’s not the lack of inspiration that’s the problem, or that make people settle for inaction, but it’s misunderstanding of motivation that leads people not to act on their goals. Knowing that motivation flows from within allows to be self-motivation. You become a person who is now driven (In the third post I will show you how to turn motivation into drive)
2. It’s a matchstick for action
Recently, the trending news was on the fires that are devastating the Amazon forest. The tension caused by these fires have scientists worried and leaders pointing figures, as it’s considered the lungs of the earth, supplying 20% of oxygen. Who started the fires isn’t our concern today, but consider that a single small matchstick has the potential to destroy a forest as big and important as the Amazon.
As a matchstick can start a fire that burns down an entire forest, so does motivation ignite actions that leads to desired results. Motivation is the matchstick that lights you up to take actions to achieve what you’re inspired to do. Whenever I decide to do something, I view motivation as a matchstick in my hand, which needs to be lit. I light it up and get into action. This approach has helped me minimize the effort required to start hard tasks. Next time you are overwhelmed with getting started on a task have this image in your mind, and you will be surprised with how motivated you will be. A matchstick comes alive due to action, and so does motivation.
3. It’s magnified and multiplied by Action
As a matchstick requires friction to light so does motivation: it takes motion to be motivated. Unfortunately, this is where the trap lies. Missing this point causes many people to sit around and wait for to be motivated to make a move. Like the bacteria growth curve, lag phase, the lack of visible change doesn’t mean that nothing is happening. The short phase before action is when motivation is kicking in. Like how you run a matchstick on the striker long enough before you see a fire, motivation takes some action before you can see it.
Action is what amplifies motivation. Whenever you get inspired to do something, but you don’t feel like taking the big steps towards achievement, that’s when the first seemingly insignificant action makes a difference. The caution is that you shouldn’t take too long before choosing to take action. Mel Robbins in her best-selling book, The 5 Second Rule, suggests not taking more than five seconds before taking action after you’re inspired. In working out, I use the two-minute rule, outlined by James Clear in his book Atomic Habits, to focus on only the first few actions of the bigger goal. Combining these two rules, not taking too long before taking action and focusing on the first few action-steps, have helped me magnify my motivation and minimize procrastination. Keeping in mind that action magnifies and multiplies your motivation will develop in you a “just do it” mentality.
Here is a question to reflect on. “What action(s) am I procrastinating on because I lack motivation?” Find a dream or unmet inspiration and take the first simple action towards its achievement. I promise that as soon as you initiate motion on your goals, you will experience motivation. Next week, I will share with you three things that affect your motivation.